Wednesday, March 29.
It is with infinite regret that I think myself obliged, by pen and ink, to repeat my apprehensions, that it is impossible for me ever to obtain a share in the affections of your beloved Daughter. O that it were not too evident to every one, as well as to myself, even to our very servants, that my Love for her, and my Assiduities, expose me rather to her Scorn [Forgive me, Madam, the hard word!] than to the treatment due to a man whose proposals have met with your approbation, and who loves her above all the women in the world!
Well might the merit of my passion be doubted, if, like Mr. Solmes to the truly admirable Miss Clarissa Harlowe, I could continue my addresses to Miss Howe’s distaste. Yet what will not the discontinuance cost me!
Give me leave, nevertheless, dearest, worthiest Lady, to repeat, what I told you, on Monday night, at Mrs. Larkin’s, with a heart even bursting with grief, That I wanted not the treatment of that day to convince me, that I am not, nor ever can be, the object of Miss Howe’s voluntary favour. What hopes can there be, that a Lady will ever esteem, as a Husband, the man, whom, as a Lover, she despises? Will not every act of obligingness from such a one, be construed an unmanly tameness of spirit, and entitle him the more to her disdain? — My heart is full: Forgive me if I say, that Miss Howe’s treatment of me does no credit either to her education, or fine sense. Since then it is too evident, that she cannot esteem me; and since, as I have heard it justly observed by the excellent Miss Clarissa Harlowe, that Love is not a voluntary passion; would it not be ungenerous to subject the dear Daughter to the displeasure of a Mother so justly fond of her; and you, Madam, while you are so good as to interest yourself in my favour, to uneasiness? And why, were I to be even sure, at last, of succeeding by means of your kind partiality to me, should I wish to make the Best-beloved of my soul unhappy; since mutual must be our happiness, or misery for life the consequence to both?
My best wishes will for ever attend the dear, the ever-dear Lady! May her Nuptials be happy! They must be so, if she marry the man she can honour with her Love. Yet I will say, that whoever be the happy, the thrice happy man, he never can love her with a passion more ardent and more sincere than mine.
Accept, dear Madam, of my most grateful thanks for a distinction that has been the only support of my presumption in the address I am obliged, as utterly hopeless, to discontinue. A distinction, on which (and not on my own merits) I had entirely relied; but which, I find, can avail me nothing. To the last hour of my life, it will give me pleasure to think, that had your favour, your recommendation, been of sufficient weight to conquer what seems to be an invincible Aversion, I had been the happiest of men.
I am, dear Madam, with inviolable respect,
Your ever-obliged and faithful